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Bland Oysters... What's up?

I fondly recall tasty oysters in New Orleans but on last week's visit every one I tried (raw, at decent spots like Felix's, Remoulade, etc.) were fresh, meaty... and tasteless to the point of regret for ordering a dozen instead of six. I love oysters, especially those from P.E.I. to Long Island Sound. IMHO Narragansett Bay in RI now produces the finest oysters (Salt Pond Selects, Poppasquash and Ninigret Cups in particular, if you get the chance). But I know that I did USED TO enjoy oysters in New Orleans.

Can anyone enlighten this Yankee dullard? I have heard that the oysters are less briny when Lake Pontchartrain has an excess of fresh water from rains or the Mississippi in spate; I have also been told that the oysters served in the French Quarter restaurants lately were from further afield: Texas, or the Gulf in general. I can believe that, as some of the poorest oysters I've had were from Texas.

I await your opinions and/or outrage. Cheers!

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  1. I had the same experience a couple of years ago when visiting in April. This year I was relieved that the oysters we ate in March were as good as ever. Seasonal issue?

    1. In my experience, PEI and other northern oysters taste saltier to me than Gulf oysters. Maybe your palate is reacting to a lower salt level? Since moving here, I've also taken to putting cocktail or hot sauce on my oysters as well as enjoying them with just lemon juice, so maybe that has changed my palate as well.

      1. Oysters are heading into the mating season. They get blander and "milky" as the summer gets hotter. The best times to eat them are cold times, and some of our more traditional places (most famously, Casamento's, which specializes in oysters) close in April and do not open again until the oysters have bred and are back on track, around October. I tend to follow this cycle myself since they are not as nice in the "milky" season.
        Also, there has been some debate about the aftereffects of the BP oil spill. Many of the oyster sprats have died this season and last. Who knows what the future is?

        1. The oysters I had in NO in December were tasteless, That's the first time I've ever experienced that. But they were the size of my little finger's nail which is tiny so I figured there wasn't much there to taste. I had some nice plump ones here near Galveston Bay a couple of weeks ago and they were delicious. The best ones I've had in a couple of years. Don't rule out Texas oysters. What happens in the Gulf usually affects Louisiana and Texas.

          1. Easy. Northeastern oysters taste like something; gulf oysters should be fried or topped with stuff or avoided, the taste down here comes from the additions not the oysters (which border on the inedible in the best of times especially if you're accustomed to cold water bivalves). Opt for the crawfish.

            That said, purists will tell you there are four days in January where the oysters are first rate. They're correct but which four days are hard to predict.

            1 Reply
            1. re: montuori

              That is not true. Gulf oysters have a very unique taste. I've had oysters all over the coastal US and prefer their taste over the others.

            2. I'm guessing it has to be the souce and conditions vary. I've had some "local" oysters this years that were flavorful but not salty. About 2 weeks ago we had oysters at Morton's that were about the best that I've had in LA in years. Almost as good as what we've been getting in Mobile/Panama City/Apalach for a year. But most of the time the Morton's oysters are just OK.

              last week we had wonderful oysters at a brew pub in Baltimore (but they were $2.50 each...ouch)

              1. I just had a dozen at Luke. They were fresh and plump but also tasteless. I thought it was just me.

                7 Replies
                1. re: rsmfoodie

                  I just ate a dozen at a place in LaPorte (TX) yesterday that were awesome. Some of the best I've had in a couple of years.

                  1. re: texasredtop

                    texasredtop I bet you had those oysters at the monument inn? those are pretty good there

                    1. re: joedontexan

                      They are joedon but there is a new place just down the road and they have been awesome. I had them Sunday and they were smaller than the other times I've eaten them there but still wonderful. They were 4 times or more larger than the ones I had at Drago's at Christmas. And tasty!!!! Southern Komfort Kitchen on Underwood between Pasadena Blvd and Spencer Hwy.

                      We had a dinner party to go to at Monument two weeks ago and it was really pathetic. I was very disappointed.

                      1. re: texasredtop

                        Could this be an after effect of the BP spill? Parkway has not had the oyster po'boy on their menu for well over a year - I thought the reason was because of the residue in the oil after deep frying the oysters - can't be changing the oil every 20 minutes ( result of
                        the spill?)

                        1. re: Bigshadetree

                          If it were the oil spill, why is Parkway the only one in to take oysters off the menu?

                          1. re: Bigshadetree

                            Parkway originally took them off because of the increased cost. There is no new residue being left by oysters post-spill.

                          2. re: texasredtop

                            texasred thanks for the tip on the southern komfort kitchen will have to try it out